Classified employees of West Contra Costa Unified School District voted overwhelmingly in June to join Local 856 as they push for improved wages, health care and other benefits. There are more than 1,800 members in the bargaining unit.
“With this vote, workers at West Contra Costa Unified have come together to send a message: they deserve better,” said Peter Finn, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 856 in San Bruno, Calif. “We will aggressively represent these new members and bring forward demands for fairness and respect on the job. As Teamsters, their voices will be amplified and the district should hear them—they are ready to fight and they have a strong union to back them.”
In a school district that serves more than 30,000 students, the new members of Local 856 work as maintenance employees, custodians, food service workers, special education instructional assistants, bilingual community school workers, campus security officers and school secretaries.
They banded together after suffering years of stagnant wages and eroding health benefits.
“After seeing what Local 856 has been able to accomplish for other county and school workers in Contra Costa County and how they have won tough contracts with good health care benefits, we knew it was time to organize to win the same quality representation at West Contra Costa Unified,” said Reynaldo Hernandez, a plumber for the school district.
For more than a year, Hernandez and his co-workers organized and built a grassroots movement across the school district. They now join a growing number of Contra Costa County and local city workers in the region who have joined Local 856 to win strong contracts for public service employees.
“My co-workers and I knew it was time for strong representation. That’s what this vote was about for us. It’s about having a union that will fight for us and give us a powerful voice,” said Heidi Estrella, an attendant clerk.